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California State Trapshooting History - by Ray Brasser

California Trapshooting Associations – The Early Years

The following article appeared in the Sportsman’s Review in May 1912…

To Organize California State Sportsman’s Association

For some time past there has been a movement on foot to organize a State Sportsman’s Association.  This move is the last step in perfecting the target shooting game in the state of California.  The various clubs in this state have suffered quite considerably because of a lack of an organization which would put them in line for all benefits from the Interstate Association, and would form a close friendship between the various clubs of the state.t

At the present time there is in the neighborhood of one hundred clubs conducted in the interest and advancement of the target shooting game in the state.  The large majority of these clubs have been organized within the past year, and while they are all well able to take care of themselves, they would be greatly benefited by the aid the Association could give them.

One of the features connected with this organization would be that the different clubs throughout the state could join together and give one large tournament each year, holding it under the supervision of the Association.  A tournament of this nature would allow the Pacific Coast shooters the opportunity of getting acquainted with one another, and put California on the map good and strong with the eastern shooting fraternity.

In view of the above and many other benefits to be derived from a State Sportsman’s Association, the Los Angeles Gun Club members have called a meeting to be held Friday evening, May 10, at 8 o’clock, Burbank Hall, Los Angeles, Cal.  At this time there will be many California shooters in this city, owing to the fact that this is the evening of the first day of the Los Angeles Gun Club’s May tournament, and a hearty invitation will be extended to all shooters in the city at the time.  It is desired that every gun club in this state, no matter how large or how small they may be, will have at least one member present to represent them.

Now is the time to settle this matter in a satisfactory way.  California must have a Sportsman’s Association, and it is hoped that when the charter clubs are counted, we will have at least fifty clubs enrolled.

Los Angeles, Cal.

Stanton A. Bruner, Sec’y
Los Angeles Gun Club

What came out of that meeting was the California-Nevada Trapshooters’ Association, the organization responsible for holding the first 13 California State Shoots, from 1912 through 1924.

The 1912 shoot was well attended (135 shooters) and by all accounts a huge success.  Shooters from California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Utah, and Colorado were all in attendance.  In addition, the high amateur honors on the second day went to Harvey Dixon, the winner of the 1911 Grand American Handicap, with a score of 190.  Harvey came all the way from Missouri to attend.  $3,500 in added money might have had something to do with the large attendance.

Trapshooting went through a number of organizational changes in the coming years.  The first Average Book was published in 1913 under the auspices of the national organization, the Interstate Trapshooting Association.  The ITA, which existed from 1892 through 1919, was run entirely by representatives from the gun, ammunition, and target industries.  In 1916 another national organization was formed, the American Amateur Trapshooting Association.  This organization, which was based on the idea that amateurs should be running the show, was short lived.  In 1919 it was “combined” with the ITA and the American Trapshooting Association was born.  The ATA logo we know today came from this new organization.  The American Trapshooting Association, which was also run by industry representatives, was itself short lived.  It was dissolved in 1923 when the current organization, the Amateur Trapshooting Association was formed.  The “amateurs” won out.  Industry representatives no longer were in charge of the show.  Vandalia was established as the home grounds and the first Grand American run by our current ATA was held there in 1924.  They never looked back.  It’s interesting to note that the “new” ATA also changed the way trap was shot.  Prior to 1923, 100 targets were often shot in

5 “innings” of 20 targets each.  The ATA standardized the practice of shooting 100 targets in 4 rounds of 25 targets each.

Back to California, and more changes… Half-way through the reign of the California-Nevada Trapshooters’ Association another association was formed… The California State Trapshooters’ Association (CSTA).  The following article appeared in the July 1918 issue of Sportsman’s Review…

Resolution Adopted by California State Association

Los Angeles, Cal., June 18, 1918

The following resolution was offered by N. W. Nelson, seconded by Henry Pfirrman, Jr., and unanimously adopted:

Whereas, This Association has received from the California-Nevada Trapshooters’ Association a letter dated May 22nd, 1918, setting forth the fact that their attention has been called to the formation of this Association, and expressing their belief that friction may arise from the similarity of the two names, and requesting therein that the title of this Association be changed; and

Whereas, The California State Trapshooters’ Association disclaims any intention of endeavor to usurp the prestige of the California-Nevada Trapshooters’ Association, and further proclaims that it is the desire of this Association to co-operate in a harmonious manner with all other recognized trapshooting associations; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, In deference to the request of the California-Nevada Trapshooters’ Association, that the name of this association be changed to The Southern California State Trapshooters’ Association, and that the secretary be and he is hereby authorized and instructed to make application to the Secretary of State for permission so to change.  That the California-Nevada Trapshooters’ Association be notified of this action by having sent to them a certified copy of this resolution, which copy shall be signed by the directors of this Association.

I, Fred H. Teeple, Secretary of the above Association, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a full, true and correct copy of a resolution duly adopted at a regular meeting of this Association, held on June 18th, 1918.

                Fred H. Teeple, Sec.                L.L. Sheldon,

                Wm. Kennedy,                           E.C. Crossman,

                Fred H. Teeple,                         N.W. Nelson,

                E.K. Mohler,                               Henry Pfirrman,

                Seth Hart,                                  H.W. Cline

                R.H. Haggard,               

There is, however, no evidence in Sportsman’s Review of any action being taken on the above resolution.  In fact, the California State Trapshooters’ Association still exists today, as the state governing body under the Pacific International Trapshooting Association.

Despite the formation of this new association, the California State Shoot continued to be run by the California-Nevada Trapshooters’ Association until it’s demise in 1925.  During this time, trophies for non-residents were awarded, but the primary trophies were open only to residents of California and Nevada.  In 1920 and 1921 “we” didn’t have a California champion.  In 1920 there were only 6 Nevada shooters listed in the average book and five of them made the trek to Tulare for the California-Nevada State Shoot.  The singles champion that year was Walter Warren from Yerington, NV with a score of 293x300.  (The runner-up that year, and perhaps “our” California Champ was Charles P. Arthur with a 292).  Not only did Walter come all the way out from Yerington and show us how it was done in 1920, but he made the trip to Los Angeles in 1921 and took the title for a second time in two years.  He was our first repeat consecutive-year singles champion, something that’s only been done 6 times in our history. 

The first “Independent Nevada State Shoot” was held by the Nevada Trapshooting Association in Elko on September 10 – 12, 1925. 

No articles exist in Sportsman’s Review on the details of the 1925 California State Shoot, but it was held at the Del Monte Gun Club on May 28 - 31.  This was the first California State Shoot run by the California State Trapshooters’ Association and one can only guess that the officers weren’t fully up to speed on sending shoot reports to the Sportsman’s Review.

The existence of the California State Trapshooters’ Association, related to throwing ATA targets, was short lived.  They were responsible for holding only 6 California State Shoots as the state governing body under the Amateur Trapshooting Association; from 1925 through 1930.   They stopped throwing ATA targets and realigned themselves with the new Pacific International Trapshooting Association when it formed in 1931.

A third association was formed on March 5, 1931… the California Golden State Trapshooter’s Association.  This is the California/ATA association we know today.  They held their first California State Shoot at the Los Angeles – Santa Monica Gun Club in June of 1931.  Attendance was obviously affected by the state association politics of the time.  In 1927 and 1928, before the Great Depression, California State Shoot attendance was over 180 shooters per year.  In 1929 and 1930 it dropped to around 100.  Under the new CGSTA, California State Shoot attendance dropped to only 60.  Attendance numbers wouldn’t completely recover until after WWII.


The California State Shoot Programs

The very first California State Shoot in 1912 was billed as a 3-day tournament and it was a huge success.  Not only did the first state shoot prove to be popular, but so did the 3-day format.  It wouldn’t change until 1947.  A number of the California State Shoots during this time were reported as 4-day events, but the first day was always “practice” followed by a 3-day “tournament”.

The first California State Shoot after the war, in 1946, was a 3-day shoot held in El Monte.  It was obviously another big success with attendance up over 30% from the pre-war years.  Starting in 1947 the California State Shoot program was changed to a 4-day format.  This lasted for 20 years.  In 1968, with the attendance tripled from what it was in 1947,  the program was changed to a 5-day format.  This continued through 1984.  In 1985 the program was changed to the 6-day format we know today.  The events have been moved around from day to day a little bit, but for the last 21 years the California State Shoot has always started on a Tuesday and ended on the following Sunday. The only exception was in 1993 when the shoot started on Monday and finished on Saturday.

Singles was certainly the primary game in the early years.  The 1912 championship was decided on 600 singles.  The first mention of a Handicap Champion was in 1914, and then again in 1917 and 1918.  The format of having all 3 events; Singles, Handicap, and Doubles, wasn’t established until 1920. 

The Woman Champion was not permanently established until 1919.  According to Sportsman’s Review our first Woman Champion was Mrs. C.E. Groat with a score of 280x300 in 1919.  Before that she was an accomplished shooter to be sure, but no California titles.  She was, however, the Woman Champion of the Pacific Coast in 1916 with a score of 86x100.  During these early years there were numerous articles discussing the merits of even having women on the firing line.  To our benefit they were all positive.  Mrs. Groat started the ranks that include Mary Knight, Lela Hall Frank, Helen Thomas and many more very distinguished women shooters from California.


The California Clubs

California trapshooting had a heyday in the roaring 20’s at the Del Monte Gun Club on the grounds of the Del Monte Hotel in Monterey.  Seven State Shoots were held there, from 1924 through 1930.  With the hotel lobby serving as the clubhouse, and nearly direct rail lines running north to San Francisco, those state shoots drew big crowds.  The Great Depression was the first blow to Del Monte’s reign, and California trapshooting politics was the second.   In 1931 the CSTA realigned itself with PITA and the California Golden State Trapshooters’ Association took the State Shoot south.  The California Indians continued to shoot at Del Monte until WWII.  After that the club moved towards Pacific Grove and became a much smaller, private club. 

When the CGSTA moved the state shoot south the first stop was the Los Angeles – Santa Monica Gun Club.  Located at 27th and Clover in Santa Monica (on the site of the current Santa Monica Airport) the club was run by our first Secretary – Treasurer, Mr. Fred Teeple.

The Long Beach Gun Club soon became a perennial favorite in the 30’s and early 40’s.  Built in 1932 it quickly became known as one of the nicest clubs in the state.  It had 4 traps, 2 skeet fields and a brick clubhouse with easy chairs, fireplace, and lunch room.  It became know Long Beach - Dominguez Hills and later as Winchester-West.

Despite these amenities, the pre-war years were difficult for trapshooting, particularly in 1943.  Due to the war effort, all ammunition was being produced for the government.  Shotgun shells were very difficult to come by and so were clay targets.  In February of 1943 G.L Hight, ATA President, issued a notice to all state associations that due to the scarcity of ammunition they were permitted to throw a 100-bird race for the state singles championship and a 50-bird race for state doubles championship.  CGSTA decided on this format and an abbreviated 1-day California State Shoot.  The secretary at the time, Dr. E.J. Hawke, determined that the only club still operational was the Newport Harbor Trapshooting Club.  On June 20th they shot 100 Singles, 50 Handicap, and 25 pair of Doubles.  They started off with 72 shooters, but as the day progressed some shooters withdrew so they could share their remaining shells with other contestants that had a better chance to win.  During the last event, which was doubles, they ran out of clay targets and had to go out into the field and collect unbroken targets and throw them again.

After the war a brand new club hosted the California State Shoot, the Lakeland Gun Club in El Monte.  They had 4 trap fields, 2 skeet fields, with trout and catfish streams on the property.  In 1946, when they hosted their first state shoot, they used a large tent as the clubhouse.  This club was established on the other side of Rosemead Blvd directly across from the property that would become the International Club, which would become Pachmayr, which is Triple B today.

California trapshooting saw lots of changes in 1947… the CGSTA was incorporated in April, the Lakeland Gun Club had finished building their clubhouse, the state shoot format was changed to a 4-day event, and attendance was up another 15 percent.  Things were looking good.  Despite all that, Lakeland only hosted 2 more state shoots, in 1948 and 1949, before closing.  From there the state shoot went to Tulare County Gun Club for 3 years and then “hit the road”.  From 1953 to 1969 the state shoot venue went into a rotation of sorts… Sacramento, Kingsburg, Fresno, Rancho Angeles, Pacoima, and Martinez.  California was fortunate to have so many good places to shoot.

The original  Tulare County Gun Club was located in the middle of Hwy 99 just a few hundred yards south of the 198 interchange.  It was moved to its current 80 acre site around 1977 when road construction moved the Hwy 99 slightly west.

It’s interesting to note that the first registered shoot at the Sacramento Trapshooting Club was on April 6th and 7th in 1946.  It was originally a PITA shoot but the CGSTA Secretary gave permissions for targets to be registered with ATA as well. 

The first registered shoot at Kingsburg was held on May 21 – 22 in 1949.  They had 85 shooters. 

The first registered shoot at Golden Valley was held on May 14 – 15 in 1960.

The California State Shoot settled in Kingsburg in 1970 where it’s been held every year for the last 36 years, except for 1978 when it was held at the Livermore Pleasanton Rod & Gun Club.

Complete List of California State Shoot Locations

Our California Champions

The link on this website to our California State Champions has been completely updated as of September 2006.  The list of Singles Champions now includes 1912 and 1913.  The list of Women Champions now goes all the way back to 1919.  The updated list of our State Handicap Champions now goes back to 1914.  A number of other errors and omissions have also been corrected.

The following sources were used in researching this project… Sportsman’s Review (1912 – 1955), Trap & Field (1956 – 1993), and CGSTA shoot programs and ATA data (1963 – 2005).  My special thanks to Judy Thornton, Ruth Moore, and Tami Daniel  at the Trapshooting Hall of Fame for their assistance.


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